SHS Dances Its Way to State


Photos submitted by Kaylea Midthun and Hannah Saari.

You may know them from their performances at football games in the fall or at basketball games in the winter, but regardless of how you know of them, the SHS dance team has been an integral part of school spirit in Stoughton schools and in the Stoughton community since the sport’s inception in 2011.
This school year’s season, the SHS dance team has once again made it to the state-wide competition for high school dancers, this year held in La Crosse, amongst other achievements. With the help and leadership of their coach, Audra Jensen, and student captain Kaylea Midthun, the dance team was able to achieve several goals this competition season.
Coach of the SHS dance team, Audra Jensen, has been coaching for six years, but this is her first year at the Stoughton district.
“They are the most hardworking, self-driven kids I’ve ever [coached], and it drew me into wanting to coach here,” Jensen says.
The dance team ranked sixth in the Wisconsin state in D2 Kicks. They also received the Highest Kick Score of the day at the Franklin Saber Showdown in Nov. In Jan., the team won D2 Runner Up at the Wisconsin Association of Cheer/ Pom Coaches Regionals (WACPC.) On Feb. 5, the dance team placed sixth place in the WACPC State Championship.
“My coaching motto is ‘practice until you get it right.’ Once you get it right, practice it until you can’t get it wrong.’ The team did just that this season,” Jensen says on the team’s success.
“The thing that is most rewarding as a coach would be when the team is drilling the same skills or routine all season, and it all finally clicks when they hit the competition floor.”
Not only does the SHS dance team perform at out-of-town competitions, but they also help foster school spirit here in Stoughton, mainly through dancing at SHS sports teams’ home matches. This schedule is determined by when the dance team performs at competitions, meaning they primarily perform during weeks they do not compete.
“My favorite [games] to dance at are football games, and I love doing it,” Saari says, “[…] It’s just really fun when it’s all dark, […] there’s lights on you, and there’s so many people filling all the sections, and they’re cheering you on.” Sophomore Hannah Saari has been studio dancing since she was four. She decided to join the SHS dance team her freshman year.
“My favorite part about being on the dance team is just the entire environment of it,” Saari says. “It’s such a family, and everyone is so close. […] We just have so much fun team bonding, and we all get to know each other.”
This year has been especially difficult with the risk of COVID-19.
Student captain Kaylea Midthun, senior and member of the dance team since her freshman year, has seen her team struggling with COVID-19.
“Just like other sports, the dance team struggled with [COVID-19],” Midthun says. “At the beginning, we were not able to practice in person and did everything over Zoom. When you are so used to performing, it is very difficult to then dance with a mask. Masks can make it difficult to breathe while dancing.”
The entirety of the team has felt this struggle along with their regular workload, which is more than one may expect, according to Hannah Saari.
“I don’t think people realize how much work and practices go into the team,” Saari explains. “We practice over ten hours a week, and some people don’t realize that, so when they join, they [can] get a little flustered.”
Although the dance team takes a lot of work and dedication, it also brings many benefits. Captain of the dance team, Kaylea Midthun, explains, “Dance has impacted my life greatly. It […] has given me my friendships, taught me to be part of a team, and has made me the person that I am today.”